A terrific recent article in The Economist (click the link above) highlights the global push towards improved financial literacy. It shines a bright light on the desperate need for financial literacy worldwide and it underscores two of my core beliefs and what drives The Money Mammals project:
1. TEACH KIDS YOUNG - Jeroo Billimoria, a social entrepreneur who founded Child Savings International, teaches kids 6-14 in 35 developing countries about money through a course called Alfatoun ("Explorer"). She notes that it's imperative to start young because "by 14 most of their habits are formed." Not surprisingly, she encountered skepticism but has fought past that to create a successful worldwide financial literacy program for youth.
2. USE NOVEL METHODS - Lewis Mandell, winner of the William E. Odem Visionary Leadership Award in financial literacy, says, "clearly the way we are going about teaching personal finance needs to be improved" The article notes, "the only classroom method that seems consistently to raise financial literacy among high-school pupils is playing a stockmarket-investing game - which rewards taking high-risk bets."
Kids need to be engaged to be educated. Bland presentations or classes don't cut it. Saving Money Is Fun?! It can be.
It is clearly important to do something and to do something for our children NOW. We cannot wait. We all must work together to improve financial literacy education in this country. But we also can't wait for education system to handle this. Take advantage of the numerous services offered by many of your local credit unions to help teach you and your children about financial literacy. But more than anything else, start educating your kids yourselves. If your discomfort with the subject is holding you back, keep it simple. Teach them to share, save and spend smart, understand the difference between needs and wants and to make smart money choices. Want to get started? Take The Money Mammals Challenge (see previous post this month).